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Detroit opens 8 tech hubs, aims for 22 more

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(The Center Square) – Detroit residents can use eight “Certified Tech Hubs” to access digital tools and Wi-Fi, and tap other services.

Detroit has spent $45 million of federal COVID-19 funds trying to close the digital divide. The Motor City has the lowest rate of internet connectivity in the United States, which excludes thousands of residents from opportunities in education, employment, and the ability to get online for work or play.

“Equitable access to high-speed internet and digital literacy tools can mean the difference between success and failure for our residents, whether they’re working on schoolwork, finding a job, or navigating workforce training tools,” Deputy Mayor Todd Bettison said in a statement. “Ensuring our seniors have a place to go to learn how to use the tools they need to keep up in today’s world is also important to us.”

The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that Detroit’s median income household in 2021 dollars from 2017-21 is $34,762.

To be granted a Certified Tech Hub, locations must provide free Wi-Fi, have devices available for residents’ use, offer basic digital literacy training software and be considered a safe environment.

It also must provide IT workforce training, tech support, English as a second language resources, and be wheelchair accessible.

“Our goal is to register a minimum of 30 Certified Tech Hubs citywide to service the 220,000 residents currently at or below poverty here in the city of Detroit,” Digital Equity & Inclusion Director Christine Burkette said. “Closing the digital divide will require us to work in partnership with community stakeholders. We thank the partners like Comcast and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Southeastern Michigan, who have already stepped forward to provide these important tools and resources to our residents and are excited for this program to expand into even more neighborhoods across the city.”

The Boys and Girls Clubs helps more than 21,000 youth, families, and entrepreneurs.

Comcast Lift Zones across the city comprise three of the first eight Certified Tech Hubs.

“Comcast is proud to partner with the city of Detroit, Human-I-T and our Lift Zone partners to provide internet access and support for digital skills training across Detroit,” Comcast Vice President of Government and Regulatory Affairs Craig D’Agostini said in a statement. “Comcast has been working to make digital equity a reality in Detroit for over a decade, and Lift Zones are a natural fit for the Certified Tech Hub initiative – spaces designed to combat digital inequities and connect Detroiters to the resources and skills they need to succeed in a digital world.”

The other tech hub locations are:

• The Dick & Sandy Dauch Club of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Southeastern Michigan located at 16500 Tireman Ave.

• Adams Butzel Recreation Center, 10500 Lyndon St.

• Comcast Lift Zone at SAY Detroit Play Center, 19320 Van Dyke Ave.

• Stoudamire Wellness Center at Eastside Community Network, 4401 Conner St.

• Comcast Lift Zone at the Detroit Housing Commission Envision Center, 1047 E. Canfield St.

• Roberto Clemente Recreation Center, 2631 Bagley St.

• Patton Recreation Center, 2301 Woodmere St.

• Detroit Association of Black Organizations, 12048 Grand River Ave.

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